DIY ‘Field Trip’ to… Quartzsite, AZ!

QIA PowWow photo credit by Sue Peng

For the month of January, many members of Pasadena Lapidary Society join the ranks of rockhounds and lapidarists across the nation – and beyond – in an annual sojourn to our ‘mecca’ of rocks – Quartzsite, Arizona. While this isn’t a fieldtrip that requires a rock hammer, shovel or other tools, it’s a great opportunity to see what wonderful gems and minerals exist in our world – all in one place. There are several gem and mineral shows which are held between December and late February in this town, which swells to over a million visitors in the month of January from a paltry 3,714 +/- residents the rest of the year. One of our favorite shows to check out is the QIA Pow Wow, which takes place this year from January 19 – 23, 2022, with free admission and free parking and way more than a day’s worth of treasures to see. It’s like a giant open air swap meet held under the beautiful blue sky with giant puffy white clouds floating overhead – which sometimes open up with a quick light rain or a heavy shower – then dissipates as quickly as it starts. Quartzsite is just 18 miles east of the California border, along Interstate 10. One can make it a full day trip, or if you’re able to secure lodging in Quartzsite or Blythe, CA, turn your visit into more than one day so you can visit the other shows taking place as well, such as Tyson Wells or Desert Gardens. If you prefer to take an RV and camp, there’s plenty of open space just on the outskirts of town. How to get there? Take I-10 East until you get to Quartzsite, about a four hour drive from Pasadena when traffic isn’t bad. We often make a quick stop at Chiriaco Summit either on the way to or from AZ, where one can fuel up and stop for a bite or snacks.

Tuesday, Nov. 16 Virtual Program Meeting Explores the Chixculub Impact Event with Paolo Sanchez; 7:00 p.m.

Pasadena Lapidary Society’s very own future geologist/geophysicist, Paolo Sanchez, will present “Traces of Extinction: The Search for Rocks and Minerals at Chixculub” for our November program meeting. For those wondering what the heck ‘Chixculub Impact Event’ is, think meteor meets dinosaurs. Paolo will present his current ongoing research examining tektites derived from Chixculub and what their respective chemistries tell us about the minerals and lithologies associated with the impact event, with the potential of understanding the lithology of the meteor itself.

Earlier this year, Paolo was awarded the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies’ (CFMS) Robert O. Deidrich Memorial Fund Scholarship for school year 2020-21. He’s been studying geosciences at UC Berkeley, working his way up to a PhD and possibly obtaining a career as a professional researcher.

There will be no Rock of the Month discussion for this meeting.

The Tuesday, Nov. 16 program meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. To join us, send an email to (new email address!)… marcia.pls.emails[at]gmail.com in advance, using ‘PROGRAM MEETING’ in subject line, and request the Zoom meeting link. We’re looking forward to seeing Paolo – and hope to see you virtually as well!

Tuesday, Oct. 19 Virtual Program Meeting Focuses on Urban Rockhounding in Tucson; 7:00 p.m.

Among some of our favorite rockhound travel guides are Dick and Mary Pat Weber. For the Tuesday, October 19 presentation, Mary Pat will take us on a Practical Guide to Urban Rockhounding in Tucson.

In a few months dealers, buyers, and collectors will gather together for the largest rockhound  event in the world.  You will find great bargains relating to all aspects of our hobby offered by vendors from all corners of the globe.  If you can’t find it in Tucson, it probably doesn’t exist anywhere.  According to Mary Pat, you will run out of money long before you cross off all the items on your wish list.

With over forty shows from which to choose, it can be a bit confusing for the first-timer.  Mary Pat will offer practical advice for navigating though the “Tucson experience” to make it both efficient and fun.  This program is jammed packed with photo highlights of the biggest club show in the world, including specimens from world class museums such as the Smithsonian and other private collections. If you’ve been thinking about visiting Tucson for the rockhound shows but have yet to, here’s a chance to see what they’re all about.

PLS member Mona Ross will provide October’s Rock of the Month talk on one of the world’s rarest gemstones, Grandidierite.

The Tuesday, Oct. 19 program meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. To join us, send an email to joenmar1[at]verizon.net in advance, using ‘PROGRAM MEETING’ in subject line, and request the Zoom meeting link. Hope to “see” you there!

September 18 Field Trip to Palos Verdes for Agate and Glaucophane

Boy, is it hot outside! Nothing beats summertime rock collecting at the beach!

CHANGE IN DEPARTURE TIME! Our next trip will be at 10AM to Palos Verdes on Saturday, September 18th, 2021 to collect striped root beer agates, yellow agates, and bluish green glaucophane. For more information, please contact Sue D at: apple_pis@yahoo.com

Yellow Green Agate from Palos Verdes
Glaucophane from Palos Verdes

Pics above of striped root beer agate, yellow green agate, and glaucophane were provided by PLS member Rex N.

Lavic Siding February 13th, 2021

Miles from Pasadena, about a third of the way between Barstow and Needles, is the sleepy town of Ludlow, CA.  Most of the time, people never even notice it’s there, unaware that a well known jasper collecting area beckons in the blistering desert heat.  Such is Ludlow most of the year. 

Ludlow in the dead of winter is totally different. The ground is stripped of vegetation, blown away as tumbleweeds, or consumed by moisture-loving denizens of shifting desert sands.  The barren landscape causes the jasper to magically appear on the desert floor waiting for us to pick it up.  February’s trip will be on Saturday the 13th, to the renowned Lavic Railroad Siding jasper location near Ludlow, CA.  Our meetup spot is 148 miles from Pasadena.  We’ll meet there at 9 AM. Late arrivals will miss the fieldtrip. Read on for further information.

All colors, shapes, sizes of jaspers and agates cover the ground at Lavic Siding.

Since this is a semi-local trip, it will be for one day only.  We’ll explore the traditional Lavic Jasper collecting areas and the brindle jasper location in the foothills north of Ludlow.  

Red, ochre, brown, black… jaspers, agates… one in back has some drusy.. all found in the vicinity of Lavic Siding.

A high clearance vehicle is required for this trip, but 4wd is always better. Attendees will need to sign a waiver of liability.   RSVP is required.  Please email rexch8[at]yahoo.com for directions, inserting LAVIC FIELDTRIP in the subject field of your email.

Quartzsite January 2021

Members of Pasadena Lapidary Society, along with most serious rockhounds, wait anxiously all year to make the 3-1/2 hour trek to Quartzsite, AZ in January. Some stay right into February, camping nearby in order to go rockhounding at their leisure, and others check in to the few motels in town or travel the 22 miles back/forth to Blythe, CA for lodging.

One of the biggest draws in Quartzsite is the QIA POWWOW, always held the third week in January. This year the POWWOW runs from January 20-24. If you’ve never been, the POWWOW is like a huge swap meet focused on gems, minerals, rocks and everything related. Admission is free and so is parking. Here’s a weblink to check it out: http://www.qiaarizona.org/.

There are other rock shows being held throughout both months, two of the most popular ones being Desert Gardens https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Event/Desert-Gardens-Rock-Gem-and-Mineral-Show-667193560050537/ from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, and Tyson Wells https://www.tysonwells.com/. Here’s the calendar of events from the City of Quartzsite website: http://www.quartzsitecalendar.com/

Self-professed as “The Rock Capital of the World”, Quartzsite is a town in La Paz County of +/- 2,000 inhabitants that swells to a couple of million in January and February each year. Situated 125 miles west of Phoenix at the junction of Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 95, it enjoys a close association with the Colorado River, just 18 miles to the west.

DesertUSA

Town of Quartzsite

North Cadys Fieldtrip; Nov. 27-29, 2020

PLS Members visited one of our favorite spots for gemstones in the North Cady Mountains, about three hours northeast of Pasadena, over Thanksgiving weekend.

The Cady Mountains have produced more gemstones than almost any other Southern California location and we explored the northern part of the range, looking for jasper, agate, fluorite, calcite, and amethyst in places where few rock hounds go. You can join us in the Cadys sometime in the future, by becoming a member of Pasadena Lapidary Society. Check out the photos below to see some of our finds.

Black and blue agate

Blue agate

Botryoidal blue agate

Jasper agate

Calcite with fluorite

Mud tube agate

Orbicular red jasper

Top notch agate

Picture Rocks for January 21 Program Meeting

Ken Rogers of the Culver City Rock & Mineral Club, will be the featured speaker at our Tuesday, January 21st meeting when he discusses “Pictures in Rocks”.

Our January Rock of the Month talk will be presented by PLS member David Lacy with a focus on Feldspar.

The Tuesday, January 21st meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium of the Pasadena Main Library at 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA 91101.  Open to the public.

January 15 Program Meeting

Rock of the Month Presentation
Psilomelane
by Mona Ross

Our January Rock of the Month talk will be by Pasadena Lapidary VP Mona Ross, on Psilomelane, a group name for hard black manganese oxides.

Main Presentation
A Brief History of Beads
by Janie Duncan

PLS member Janie Duncan will present ‘A Brief History of Beads’ at our first program meeting of the New Year.


We hold informative monthly meetings. Our meetings are held in the comfort of the Donald Wright Auditorium of the Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, California. Comfortable seating, lighting, a stage and audio-visual system allows us to attract quality speakers, provide demonstrations and interesting videos for our members!

Meetings are the third Tuesday of the month. Members and guests arrive between 6 pm and 6:30 pm for refreshments and information exchange. A display table at the back of the room allows our Education Committee and society members to display creations, finds, and the birthstone of the month. It is also a place for members and guests to have unknown minerals identified.

Our meetings begin at 6:30 pm and end at 8:45 pm. They include a business session and a program on a subject relating to our earth science hobby. Refreshments are served at a break between the sessions. The program may include demonstrations, slide shows, videos, auctions, show and sell, or lectures on various subjects.